There are times when we see things that we can not explain. There are times when words are not enough to explain what we see. Then there are times when what we see explains everything. Today was one of those times for me. As I was driving this afternoon, I pass a father who is pulling his child in a wagon down the street. By all accounts it was a beautiful picture of a father enjoying his children, spending quality time with
them; just being dad. However, I noticed one small difference with this father that took me by surprise but really explained where we are as a society. This father was doing his duty as a father and spending time with the kids. He was by all accounts being a good dad except for this one thing. I drove passed it and thought to myself “that explains a lot” about society. This father was staring down at his cell phone the whole time he was pulling his kid in the wagon. They were not conversing or singing a song together or just taking in the beautiful “almost spring” scenery. He was pulling that wagon and staring at his phone. He paid no attention to his surroundings or his child in the wagon which he was pulling. WOW. Is this what technology has done for us? Has it made us non-social automatons? This guy was not interested in nature or his child for that matter. The only thing that mattered was whatever he was looking at on his device.
Now I am not blaming the father or even mad at him, he was just a great explanation of where we are as a people. You see it everyday in every place. People sitting down to eat together but no one is talking to each other. They are all on the phones. I walk into a Doctor’s office or any place where there is a waiting room and where there used to be conversation between people there is silence. Everyone from the child to the adult is glued to the phone. We are more concerned with the latest video, Facebook, Instagram or twitter post, than we are with the real life that is sitting right in front of us.
I must admit that what I saw was really nothing new, but today when I saw a father pulling his child through the street in a wagon all the while staring at his phone, it awakened me. I must admit that I have been just as guilty of doing this as the rest of society. It was at that moment today that I saw how mindless, unsocial and self-centered our phones and devices have made us. I asked the Lord to forgive me because I knew I was guilty. I have spent more time looking at my phone or on my computer than I have talking to my children or spending time with them. I felt horrible and a little ashamed that I let an electronic device control my life.
When I got home I went into where my little ones were, and wouldn’t you know it they were on their devices. I thought oh no, I am raising another generation that will be more addicted to these devices then we are! Now I am often rash and quick to make changes when I am convicted but I did not do that here. I let them continue to play for a while and then told them to shut them off at a certain time. We then sat and watched a movie together and just talked about things. It was a fun time of just being together, I mean really together. Talking to each other and spending time with each other in the flesh. It felt good, right, and even holy.
You see I can’t get that feeling of family, togetherness, love, and closeness from a phone. I can’t get affirmation, hugs, snuggles, butterfly kisses or just a simple touch from a phone. The thing we long for the most as human beings is to love and be loved. We desire to be touched and cared for by another human. We desire to be human with another human and you cannot do that on a phone though many of us try on a daily basis. We look to Facebook for friendships, Instagram for inspiration, or twitter for truth. We justify our lives by how many likes or retweets we get. We desire to know and be known by others yet we are glued to a false sense of reality.
We check our friends list and think because we have 750 friends that we are popular and loved. However, we have no one to go home to and no one to hold us when we are afraid, hurting or angry. Those 750 “friends” for the most part barely know us. We have lost the definition of what a friend really is. We don’t know how to be a real friend or have true friends. We say what we want with no fear of reprisal even to our so-called friends. Things we would never say to a real live person sitting beside us. We desire reality but try to achieve it through this virtual/alternate reality. How crazy is that?
The truth is that we need each other, the real each other. I don’t need you to text me, I need you to come see me. That is what we long for and we try to get it through technology. While technology is great and has helped us in tremendous ways it cannot love us back, hug us, hold us, cry with us, rejoice with us or just simply be there for us. Only human beings can do that. I believe technology (as it pertains to phones and social media) has actually hurt us, divided us and caused us to lose the human connection. The reality is that it’s the human connection that makes us feel alive and keeps us alive. There is story after story of how people were put in homes or taken away from other family members, friends etc. and soon passed away. It is built into our DNA to need each other, the real each other.
The bible is clear about the need for relationships with each other and with God. We need each other, the real each other. We need a relationship with each other, a real relationship. Ecclesiastes 4:9-12 says “Two are better than one, because they have a good reward for their toil. For if they fall, one will lift up his fellow. But woe to him who is alone when he falls and has not another to lift him up! Again, if two lie together, they keep warm, but how can one keep warm alone? And though a man might prevail against one who is alone, two will withstand him—a threefold cord is not quickly broken.”
John 15:13 says, “Greater love has no one than this, that someone lay down his life for his friends.”
Hebrews 10:25 tells us, “Not neglecting to meet together, as is the habit of some, but encouraging one another, and all the more as you see the Day drawing near.”
Jesus said that the greatest commandments were these, “The most important is, ‘Hear, O Israel: The Lord our God, the Lord is one. And you shall love the Lord your God with all your heart and with all your soul and with all your mind and with all your strength.’ The second is this: ‘You shall love your neighbor as yourself.’ There is no other commandment greater than these.” (Mark 12:28)
There are many other scriptures that talk about caring for one another, the real one another, and building strong lasting real human relationships. The Bible is clear that we are to be together in a real and tangible way. Technology can never be a true substitute for the real thing.
I pray that you will take time today to put down the phone, tablet or computer and spend time with a real person who is dying to spend time (real quality, person to person time), with you.
Hope Church Newport News